Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), also known as ARTS (Action Real Time Strategy), is a relatively new game genre popularized in the first decade of the 21st century. The first MOBA game was Aeon of Strife, a map for Starcraft. It gained popularity and, when Warcraft III with its powerful Hero Units and amazing map editor came out, spawned a lot of similar maps which were referred to as AoS style maps. Amongst others there were D-Day, various AoS's direct ports, and Defense of the Ancients, developed by Eul. One of its own spinoffs, Defense Of The Ancients Allstars developed by Guinsoo, became the Trope Codifier by virtue of its astounding popularity, with a non-negligible fraction of War3 sales driven solely by people who wanted to play DotA Allstars.

The genre is largely defined by its setup; each team (typically consisting of 3 or 5 players) has a single base which they must protect at all costs; if their base is destroyed, they instantly lose; this base serves as a center of operations, a shop, and a healing location for heroes all in one. This base is protected by a series of "towers", defensive buildings set out in lines radiating away from the base. These towers deal considerable damage to any enemy which comes within range, as well as acting to grant allied players vision over that portion of the battlefield; in most games, there are 2-4 rows of these "towers" protecting their base, with the more distant towers more distantly spaced from one another, while the backmost towers usually are more closely clustered together, making them more easily defensible the more towers are lost, but also providing a disadvantage as the towers help players maintain control of a greater portion of the battlefield.

As the game progresses, AI-controlled minions (sometimes called "lane creeps" or just "creeps") spawn at the team's base and proceed out along pre-programmed paths, traveling from allied tower to allied tower before assaulting the enemy towers. These minions will attack any enemy they come across, including opposing minions, opposing towers, and opposing players. The pre-set routes these minions follow are known as "lanes", and there are almost always fewer lanes than there are players - three player games typically have two lanes, while five player games typically have three lanes.

In-between these lanes is a region known as "the jungle", which contains un-allied units (sometimes referred to as "neutral creeps" or "monsters") which are more powerful than minions which will attack any unit from either team they come across - however, as these units tend to remain in the jungle, they almost only ever encounter the players, and only rarely come into contact with minions.

Many games also include two more powerful types of monsters in the jungle. One common type of monster is weaker than a player character, but dangerous to a badly wounded hero; these monsters can be killed in order to give their killer some bonus for a short amount of time. Many games also include one or two monsters in the jungle which are considerably more powerful than any hero, making them very dangerous to engage solo, but which grant some large team-wide award for killing them.

In most MOBAs, each player on a team controls a single "hero" character unit; this character is considerably more powerful than any minion, and stronger than the normal creeps in the jungle, but considerably less powerful than any tower, meaning it is easy for them to kill minions, but assaulting a tower on their own is suicidal. Every hero unit has a unique set of abilities as well as a unique balance of statistics, and most of the time, a team may only include a single copy of any given hero unit; as a result, teams typically have a diverse membership of heroes, each filling different roles on the team.

All units in the game grow inherently more powerful over time, though typically, towers are either exempted from this or grow at a slower rate, meaning that inevitably over time, eventually the towers will be brought down by the minions. Player characters, in addition to or in the place of the general power creep common to every creature, can gain power more quickly by killing enemy minions, neutral creeps, towers, and enemy heroes; in many games, merely being around a killed enemy unit gives a hero Experience Points and/or money, but directly killing a creep will either give them the resource they don't gain passively, or more of that resource - usually, money. This mechanic makes up the core of the gameplay, as the opposing heroes want to do the same thing to allied units and towers, and due to the routes that the allied minions take which always bring them directly into contact with the enemy minions, and the fact that there are only a limited number of neutral monsters in the jungle to kill, players inevitably come into direct conflict with each other, trying to kill the enemy units in order to accumulate experience and money, trying to deny the enemy the ability to do the same.

This conflict is accentuated by three additional factors. First, heroes are extremely valuable to kill; if an enemy hero is killed, typically the hero who killed them will gain a large amount of money and experience for doing so, and in many cases the entire team of the killer will gain a smaller amount of money. In many games, this is doubly harmful as the hero who is killed frequently outright loses money, sometimes dropping it for the enemy team to pick up. Secondly, if an enemy hero is killed or forced to retreat, it makes it much easier to kill enemy minions and gain extra experience and money due to the lack of opposition; this also naturally denies the enemy hero the opportunity to do the same, further damaging their ability to accumulate power and resources. Thirdly, if a lane is left undefended, it makes it easier to "push" the lane, meaning it is easier to lead allied minions in an attack on an enemy tower - and this is very important because towers usually either preferentially target minions, or preferentially target the closest non-allied unit, meaning that the hero can safely attack the tower while getting cover from the tower's powerful attacks thanks to their allied units.

As a result, a great deal of the interplay between the players and the teams comes from risk and reward; being more aggressive may make it easier to kill lots of enemy units, drive off enemy heroes, accumulate money more quickly, and damage enemy towers, but it also may leave you more vulnerable to counterattacks from enemy heroes, and may leave you vulnerable to an ambush from a hero who is not in a lane but is instead in "the jungle", who might emerge from the jungle to attack you at any moment.

As heroes accumulate experience, they typically passively gain extra Hit Points and Mana, as well as deal additional damage, but also usually gain other benefits as well, such as gaining access to new abilities or more powerful versions of the abilities they already possess; in many games, the player gets to choose which ability to make stronger at each level. However, the really critical resource tends to be money; while levels are very important, money allows a hero to buy items or other upgrades, which make them more powerful and sometimes grant them additional speed or special abilities they would otherwise lack. Unlike experience, money can only be spent when the hero returns to base (or respawns at base after their death), meaning that heroes must periodically retreat from the front lines in order to buy items or upgrades at their base, leaving temporary holes in their teams' defenses, but making them more powerful and better able to kill enemy minions and fight off enemy heroes.

Many MOBAs have a few well-defined roles for heroes:

  • The carry, a character who tends to be a glass cannon but who deals out an immense amount of damage in a short period of time; these characters are known as "carries" because they are frequently responsible for "carrying" their team to victory in the late game, after their early-game frailty has been mitigated and they've gained the ability to do massive amounts of damage quickly; by the end-game, these characters may be capable of killing multiple enemy heroes within only a few seconds, or bringing down a tower within a very short period of time. Some carries can also be considered "assassins", carries who are more focused on melee range, and usually are there to covertly kill off any vital enemy targets that are considered a threat, as opposed to other generic carries who are ranged attackers.
  • The caster, who frequently acts as a secondary carry of sorts; these characters tend to be reliant on special abilities with long cooldowns which place debilitating penalties upon enemy heroes, possibly outright stunning them, and frequently deal large amounts of damage or control the battlefield in such a way to make it harder for the enemy to bring their power to bear. Like the carry, these characters tend to start out weak but end the game with a great deal of power, and are frequently very good at killing enemy heroes but are pretty frail themselves; unlike carries, most casters tend to be poor at destroying towers due to their main damage coming from their magic-based abilities in rewarding bursts. They (as attack damage-based or magic-based) can also be foils to the DPS-type heroes, who rely more on basic-attack damage output as opposed to timely yet rewarding ability burst.
  • The tank, a character whose purpose is to draw enemy aggression. They're typically good at forcing enemies to fight with them, either stunning, immobilizing, trapping, pulling in, or taunting enemies into attacking them, allowing their teammates to kill them while simultaneously being able to take a lot of punishment.
  • The support, a character whose job is to grant some sort of buff or healing ability to the rest of their team, keeping important characters (such as the caster and the carry) alive, helping characters stay "in-lane" longer while taking damage, and otherwise boosting the abilities of their team; in five-player games, these players tend to be the one forced to double-up in a lane with one of their teammates and allow their teammate to accumulate the bulk of the money, forcing them to find other ways to be useful which don't involve them having high durability or damage.
  • The jungler, a character whose job it is to wander around in the jungle killing neutral creeps. Unlike other heroes, these characters may fill any of the other roles on their team (though usually not support), and also are usually expected to act as assassins, trying to kill ("gank") enemy heroes - not only the enemy jungler, but also the enemies in lanes. They also are usually expected to stand in for allied heroes when they're killed or forced to retreat from a lane in order to keep the lane covered at all times. In many games, the jungler is also expected to act as reconnaissance, either directly keeping an eye out for the enemy jungler to ensure that they don't ambush their allies, or leaving "wards" around, which are sentry type units which may or may not be possible for the enemy to attack but which grant sight to allies, giving them warning if an enemy is trying to sneak up on them.

Aside of these generalized roles, MOBA characters and items can have similarities a lot they make up their own archetypes within the genre. Check here for such occurences.

Late in the game, after heroes have accumulated significant amounts of experience and money, they will typically take a more aggressive stance and start actively trying to destroy enemy towers, as well as try and gang up and destroy the special, more powerful monsters in the jungle to gain team-wide bonuses; frequently, this forces the enemy team to deploy against them in response. These situations where whole teams come into conflict are known as "team fights", and can frequently vastly shift the balance of power as multiple heroes from one team might be killed and forced to wait to respawn at base; a decisive team fight, where an entire team is trapped and eliminated, can frequently cost the eliminated team the game. Many games increase the amount of time a hero is forced to wait to respawn after they are killed later in the game, making such losses even more painful.

Because of the way many of these games are designed, they almost invariably suffer from Unstable Equilibrium in some form or another; early game mistakes can result in one team or another gaining an early advantage, which makes it easier for them to win later confrontations, giving them a larger advantage with every victory; as a result, games can often be decided long before either base is in even remote danger of destruction, and yet one team's victory can be almost assured. Because a single weak link can allow a single enemy player to gain a disproportionate amount of power, and because multiple players can often be blamed for a mistake, such as a jungler failing to notice an ambush on a player who was being too aggressive and put themselves into a vulnerable position, games frequently result in players getting extremely angry with one another.

Due to the complexity of the tactics and strategies in these games, near-constant pressure, and necessity for teamwork, MOBA players are infamously hostile towards newbies and weak team players. Many of these games have devoted communities to which the game in question is very much Serious Business, and due to the inherent difficulties in measuring the contribution of individual players on teams, matchmaking between individual players for pick-up games tends to lead to much more varied skill levels of players on a given team than for games with more individually tailored rating systems, especially in games with five or more players on a side. All of this is a recipe for GIFT and Griefing, and all of the DOTA clones, due to the relatively long matches and similar game design, suffer from this to a great extent. Some of the newer MOBAs have tried to mitigate this with varying levels of success, either by making it easier for the losing team to catch up or by making it so that matches end more quickly when one team gains a large advantage; both solutions are intended to give players less time to be unhappy with each other and to spend less time playing games where the outcome is already clear.

Games in this genre:

  • Adventure Time Battle Party: A free-to-play game featuring characters from the show Adventure Time.
  • Arena of Fate: An upcoming game being developed by Crytek, featuring characters from both mythology (Red Riding Hood, Robin Hood) and history (Nikola Tesla, Joan of Arc).
  • Awesomenauts (A 2D Sidescrolling game following the DotA formula)
  • Aeon Of Strife (Starcraft Game Mod)
  • AirMech (Also a Real-Time Strategy in the vein of Herzog Zwei.)
  • Battleborn (A First-Person Shooter by Gearbox Software that nonetheless checks off all the requirements)
  • BattleTanks: A less well known Warcraft III Game Mod where the heroes are tanks.
  • Bloodline Champions, which does not follow DotA's formula at all
  • Chaos Online, dubbed as 'Korean DOTA' at first, but has more similarities to League of Legends (though the map is designed like southeast-northwest as opposed to the typical southwest-northeast). Gains its notice when not only they feature crossover from Japanese games, so far Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and Valkyria Chronicles, it is also imported to Japan (under the name Chaos Heroes Online), dubbed with Names to Know in Anime, and those crossover characters get Role Reprisal by their original actors. The English version is now under closed beta, managed by Aeria Games, and yes, the crossover characters get carried over. Unfortunately, Aeria Games closed down the English version, but it's still going on in Japan and Korea.
  • Clonk scenarios "Tower Attack" (focusing on the base and mook elements) and "Keepers" (with less Real-Time Strategy elements and more action combat and RPG Elements; freely combinable skills depending on class instead of fixed skillsets).
  • Crasher
  • Dawngate (An fleeting game by a new company called Waystone Games that changes things by removing the standard middle lane in favor of a massive jungle, and adding "Resource Nodes", which are automatically mined by minions when captured and give resources to the team. While it became something of a fan favorite, sadly EA decided to shut down Waystone Games and closes the Dawngate along with it.)
  • Defense Of The Ancients (Warcraft III Game Mod)
  • Demigod (A particularly high-budget attempt at the genre, with incredible graphics and sound and a lot of creative new mechanics; sadly it failed to get off the ground and died in short order)
  • Dungeon Defenders 2, a sequel to the original Dungeon Defenders which was going to have a Dota-like mode with many heroes and a third person camera, but was scrapped in favor of sticking to the original formula
  • Fates Forever, a MOBA made exclusively for tablets (as of the time of this writing, iOS only).
  • Fat Princess, a hybrid of the genre with top-down Action Game.
  • Gigantic, a third person MOBA by Motiga with a distinct cel shaded art style. Gigantic eschews the normal jungle based combat with various side arenas which spawn minions for the team that controls them, as well as being based around the gigantic beasts who replace the normal crystal at the end.
  • Heroes of Newerth: Originally developed as a direct port of Dota All-stars to a new engine, since the Warcraft 3 engine was woefully out of date, it has over the years grown to be different in many respects. Most notably the larger part of heroes developed directly by S2 Games but also several nuances have been changed that Valve would not dare touch for fear of upsetting fans of the original mod.
  • Heroes Of Order And Chaos: a MOBA for your phone!
  • Heroes of the Storm: A MOBA made with Heroes and characters from Blizzard's popular three properties crossing over and battling in new and original maps, each with their own objectives and twists. Promises short and quick matches that are simple and easy to get into, removes items entirely in favor of "Talents". Was originally called Blizzard Dota (Changed after a lawsuit with Valve), and then Blizzard All-Stars, before settling on the current title.
  • Infinite Crisis: A MOBA being made set in the DC Universe, with the premise of numerous alternate universes colliding.
  • League of Legends (developed by several of the team who worked on DotA Allstars (including Guinsoo) and currently rated as the single most-played PC game in the world)
  • Lord of the Rings: Guardians Of Middle Earth
  • Monday Night Combat, a hybrid of the genre with Third Person Shooter.
    • Its sequel, Super Monday Night Combat, follows the formula more closely, but still blends it with a Third Person Shooter.
  • Prime World (An upcoming game that seeks to integrate Facebook and the ability to play support with a Zuma-like mini-game if a player isn't that good with DotA-style games)
  • Realm Of The Titans (Was supported by Aeria Games for about a year or two, support in the US has been dropped, but continues to be played in East Asia)
  • Rise Of Immortals (Lasted around 2-3 years, had a short relaunch as Battle for Graxia, but the service was cancelled in June 2013 )
  • Sins Of A Dark Age (An upcoming game made by Ironclad Games that mixes things up by having 4 players on each team control a hero, while the other two separately control a "commander" who creates buildings, units, and other Real Time Strategy Elements).
  • Smite (Made by Hi-Rez Studios, who made Global Agenda. Notable for putting the action in over-the-shoulder 3rd person for a more action-packed experience, while still sticking faithfully to the genre formula. Based around mythologies from all over the word where you take control as gods such as Thor, Hades, Ra and many more.)
  • Strife, an upcoming MOBA developed by the same people who brought you Heroes of Newerth. While introducing player customization such as custom recipes, the game is also balanced to reduce the distinction between roles by giving shared creep bounty, adequate scaling to all heroes, and even removing wards.
  • Solstice Arena: a trend-breaker in several ways, being published by Zynga (!) exclusively for iStuff (!!). It's described as a "speed MOBA" and does away with mooks entirely.
  • Storm Of The Imperial Sanctum (StarCraft II Game Mod)
  • Tides Of Blood (Another Warcraft III Game Mod)
  • Universal Monsters Online (a Massive Multiplayer Crossover starring Universal Horror monsters, has been discontinued as of 2013)
  • Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes (A game that was being made by Bioware, did moderately well, but failed to meet expectations, and was canceled before it left beta)
  • Vorp (An upcoming Space MOBA game)

List of tropes prominent in the genre:

  • Acceptable Targets: It's no secret that this genre is practically bred to cause emotional angst. However, nothing sets the playerbase off more than saying you are Brazilian or Russian. Mostly in LoL and DotA respectively.
    • Or Pinoys and Chinese (From china) for South East Asian players.
    • Also, extend the hate towards Russian's to any, even remotely slavic nationality. If you speak a slavic language in a game, you will be called a Russian and hated for it, unless you manage to play competently.
    • LoL actually implemented a South American server to separate the Spanish/Portugese speakers from English ones. Of course, seeing a Brazilian on the NA server gets a response along the lines of "why aren't you people gone yet?"
    • There is only one sole exception in this rule: In League of Legends, if your purpose of saying "Brazil" or "Huehuehuehue" is to poke fun of the Memetic Mutation surrounding the champion Mordekaiser, then you may be able to instead generate a grin.
  • Adaptation Displacement: DotA: Allstars is more popular and well-known than any of its predecessors. Very few people know about Aeon of Strife or Eul's DotA.
    • Likewise, Guinsoo's tenure at the helm of Allstars is more historical compared to Ice Frog's tenure, due to Ice Frog maintaining Competitive Balance.
  • Ascended Glitch: some of Warcraft III engine limits and glitches made it into metagame and are copied in other games. Notably, the concept of denying your own friendly creeps to "deny" XP and gold from the enemy.
  • Boss Battle: The heroes may be considered Bosses. In addition, some MOBAs also include a powerful Neutral enemy which is difficult to face alone, but usually yields a powerful reward (like the ability to revive from death once).
  • Can't Catch Up: Players intend to invoke this. In many MOBAs, there are many heroes who can't do much after a certain point in the game thanks due to lower scaling abilities/stat growth. In addition, by then, heroes who succeed in getting enough gold and experience will start to painfully maim their past predators
  • Character Tiers: These are frequently debated by the various communities and monitored closely by the developers; due to the competitive nature of these games, heroes are frequently made more or less powerful in order to bring them into better balance with one another, with varying levels of success. Some heroes are generically strong, some can be used in multiple roles on a team, some excel at specific roles, and some may be useful for exactly one thing and completely useless otherwise. The tiers change frequently in many games due to constant small adjustments to various heroes, with older heroes tending to settle out to relatively stable positions while newer heroes tend to be more varied in usefulness as they are rebalanced as players learn how to use them to deadly effect, or counter them and render them almost entirely useless.
  • Comeback Mechanic: In many games, if you kill a Hero who is in the middle of a Kill Streak, you get a big Gold bonus, not to mention a huge psychological boost. However, this is all too frequently subverted.
    • See also the various other metrics of success. New players typically assume that leading in killscore equates to victory, and it certainly does up your chances... but "CS" (creep score), the number of mooks you've killed—and thus the amount of Gold you have—is critical too, because that results in better items. The number of demolished towers are also important, because it lowers the enemy's map control and makes it harder for them to farm safely. Finally, there's typically some sort of Bonus Boss (Roshan in the original DotA) that grants some sort of mega-buff when slain. In the semi-final round of the 2013 League of Legends world championship, a team that was behind in kills 2 to 1 nonetheless managed to keep equal in Gold and items, and snatch said mega-buff. It was enough to turn the game in their favor.
  • Competitive Balance: you can have Physical Gods and Badass Normals in one setting, but they must be equal in power.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Being a PvP game, par for the course.
  • Detractor Nickname: Haters prefer calling the genre "Aeon Strife-Styled Fortress Assault Game Going On Two Sides", a not-inaccurate description that has the amusing side-effect of shortening to "ASSFAGGOTS".
  • Difficult but Awesome: Sure, it can take a long time to adjust to even the basic mechanics of the game, even longer to get a firm grasp on the flow of the game, but if you can get past those (and the community), MOBAs can be a very rewarding experience for some.
  • Double Standard: The person on their team disconnects? They'll pause and wait for them to come back. When the person on your team disconnects? They'll force-unpause the game and use this as an advantage to come ahead.
  • Dynamic Entry: Pretty much every MOBA has at least one character that can use "stealth" or turn him/herself invisible before landing the first attack.
  • Entitled Bastard: A lot of people will constantly ask you to help them out, refusing to help you back, and do not expect a "Thank you" if you do save them.
  • Excuse Plot: Some games just think "Pick these people, now go fight."
  • Fake Difficulty: In the form of Guide Dang It. If you're new to the genre, then don't expect the in-game tutorials to help since they rarely explain more than what the controls are. They do not tell you details of the metagame—the popular / successful trends that everyone follows and expect you to be up-to-date on. Matches vs AI (if they exist) can help you catch up, but not by much. And forget The Wiki Rule: they may provide documentation, but rarely provide strategy, partially because it constantly changes and partially because MOBA players don't like sharing.
  • Fan Dumb: The number of accusations about DOTA 2 having copied Lo L or Ho N is frightening. You'd think the 2, combined with the unfamiliar title, might've prompted them to do a touch of Google-Fu to find out what Dota 1 was.
  • Follow the Leader: The standard 5-on-5 three-lane map described above has been implemented in almost every clone, to the point that players can be surprised if certain minor features aren't in the exact spot they're used to finding them in. However a couple games have decided to diversify the genre by adding different game modes... and have been criticized for not being a near carbon-copy of DotA, interestingly enough.
  • Game Breaker: par for the course, due to new heroes being released on a regular schedule. The developers try to balance them, but with so much new content, it's inevitable they miss something.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation
  • GIFT: In the form of “Stop Having Fun” Guys, Serious Business Scrubs, Suffers Newbies Poorly, Unpleasable Fanbase, Small Name, Big Ego, Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, and Entitled Bastard. Basically, MOBA games have a terrible reputation for having communities full of people on their absolute worst behavior.
    • The only gaming communities considered worse than MOBA communities are some fighting communities. Aside from that, the fanbase of many a MOBA is a Wretched Hive, so much so that self-policing organizations existed for Dota and official bans and punishments for poor behavior exist in many modern games.
      • Even then, some Lo L players were surprised when Riot Games actually banned a professional player for being an asshat.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Given that some of these games show up in e-Sports and have official tournaments, you can definitely spot the people who are clearly not here to make friends, they're just here to win.
    • Even in standard play, people have pointed out the guys having the most fun are the ones who aren't there to win and don't give a hoot about their statistics; they're just there to play games because they think it's fun. But for a few others, sometimes it's more fun for them just to hear others throw tantrums.
  • Internet Tough Guy: Some people who take everything personally or can't cope with losing.
  • Item Crafting: Introduced in DotA: Allstars. Everything is sold in the shop, but high-tier items are built out of mid-tier items, which themselves might be built out of low-tier items. This is meaningful because War3 only gave heroes 6 inventory slots. Forcing you to save up for the Infinity+1 Sword would basically doom your team to failure, since anyone who went for an Infinity–1 Sword would have it half a game earlier—and that edge, tiny though it seems, matters a lot. Hence item crafting, allowing you to suck less by building two -1 Swords and combining them into the +1 later.
  • I Thought It Meant: Prior to the naming of this genre, it was a common sight to see people refer to these as Tower Defense games.
  • It's Up to You: It's not. Nobody can win a game single-handedly if he is the only decent player on the team. Good teams, however, may utilize a 'four-protect-one' strategy where one of the players runs a phenomenally powerful damage dealer that the rest must sacrifice life and limb to build up for the endgame.
    • Well, actually, when the MOBA is more like DotA, some characters, given enough time to get the money for their items, actually CAN win the game single-handedly, however it is very hard and doesn't often happen.
    • It's more of a zigzagged trope. Although there are absolutely no popular games that allows a player to One-Man Army the enemy easily, there are strategies that can rely heavily on a single player doing his job rather than the team. The most common one is called "backdooring," in which a Stealth-Based Mission targets the base to exploit Instant-Win Condition, but there are others.
  • Level Grinding: 'Laning' and 'Jungling' are the prime sources of Experience Points for essential skills and gold for key items, even with the much larger individual bounties for hero kills.
  • Limit Break: the ultimate spell which is more powerful and unique than any other spells, and it can be afforded by reaching a certain level.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: DotA has 112 as version 6.76, with only 3 heroes not playable in Dota2 yet, League of Legends has 123 and is still going with no indication of ever stopping, although it has slowed by a bit (one champion every 3 weeks, rather than every 2) while HoN has 125 even though it slowed the production to an average of 2 or 3 new heroes per 6 months some time ago. Even new MOB As come with at least a dozen or two characters to begin with.
    • When a MOBA goes on enough, they get this. This is in fact one of the draws of the genre - unlike other genres with this trope, you can actually log on and see more than five characters being used.
    • This is arguably one of the main reasons poor Demigod failed so badly: it launched with eight characters. Eight. The developers patched in 2 more after launch, but it was too little, too late.
  • One-Man Army: Downplayed Trope. Certainly the average playable character is this compared to the average (unseen) denizen of the gameworld, but compared to other playables, a character may only become a One Man Army if his/her/its leveling and farming is successful.
    • Most Bonus Bosses are this. usually it takes several high-level heroes with several articles for beating a Bonus Boss.
  • Pick-Up Group
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: Being a multiplayer game; whenever a game attempts to have a plot, it's ignored.
  • Serious Business: This is par for the course in any PvP game, but practically a genre trait in MOBA games.
  • The Shepherd: Some people genuinely do want to help newbies get better, and will give them advice and encouragement.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Most of the jerks on these games really don't have the skills to back up their Trash Talk...
  • The Social Darwinist: ESPECIALLY prevalent in the various playerbases of these games.
  • Sock Puppet: A few games are notriously easy to make a Sock Puppet account for.
  • Suffers Newbies Poorly: Some people who treat you like crap when you're starting might be perfectly reasonable if you play them after getting better. And then there are...others.
  • “Stop Having Fun” Guys: This too, though it's more endemic in "pro" environments like DotA or Heroes of Newerth. Course, if you manage to play any MOBA game and not run into these guys, then you are Born Lucky. The very conventions of the genre tend to encourage this behavior as any deaths will make the opposing team stronger ('feeding') and experimenting or fooling around can be lethal. This is why most newbies, or experienced players experimenting with something new, are encouraged to start with bot games. (As a bonus, you're a bit more likely to find The Shepherd there, if for no other reason than players are a bit less cranky when the Curb-Stomp Battle is basically guaranteed.)
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: These games tend to be patched often, leading to this reaction in fans often.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks: inverted. Games will often get flak for deviating from the established formula. (It can also be suicidal because it reveals how much of game balance is circumstantial. League of Legends has four whole maps—three more than Dota—and many of its characters have wildly different positions on the Character Tiers depending on which map you're playing on.)
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Because of the team-based aspect of these games, this mostly happens with low-tier characters. It's not unknown for people to Rage Quit because somebody on their team chose a character perceived as being underpowered. Likewise, in DotA, which doesn't allow both sides to deploy the same hero, people might rage-quit when they saw that the other team had managed to nab the latest Game Breaker.
    • Developers of games are constantly trying to avert this trope so people actually will try to win with their favorites, not just picking a hero declared "OP."
      • Especially since "OP" is not a relative term in these games. The original DotA only lets one team pick any given hero; Mirror Matches are forbidden. And there were some characters that were so Game Breakery that the whole game was decided by the question of which team managed to click on him faster, a process which took five seconds. The thirty or forty minutes of gameplay that followed were largely a formality.
  • Total Party Kill: "ACED!"
  • Ungrateful Bastard: LOTS.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Dying to the same opponent three times or even twice can basically hand them the game. This may seem ridiculous, but look at the advantages he gains from just one kill:
    • He gains Gold and Experience Points, not just from the kill but because you have to respawn and return to the fight, a time during which you are not Level Grinding and he is.
    • While you are absent from lane, he has a window of relative calm in which he can grind, set up ganks ("gang kills") on your beleaguered teammates or achieve other objectives (towers, the Bonus Boss, etc), solidifying his team's lead.
    • Finally, the original DotA and some others would penalize you by taking Gold away from you every time you died. Depending on circumstances, it was completely possible to be reduced to 0 G. This is the one most likely to be removed by spinoff games, as it's just a bit too harsh, and even the “Stop Having Fun” Guys don't complain about its absence.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The playerbase for just about every one of these games.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Double Subverted. Early-mid game towers are very dangerous and can kill heroes in only a few hits, but they don't scale according to hero levels, so past a certain point towers stop being a formidable threat. Their main Late-Game use is as glorified stealth detectors.
    • However, played entirely straight and justified gameplay-wise with some heroes who may be able to summon turret guns.
  • X Meets Y: The classic MOBA style is essentially Real-Time Strategy meets Tower Defense.

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